The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, on Wednesday visited the Mpape area of Abuja over the recent incident where fire oozed out from rocks within the area.

Bello assured residents not to panic as the incident is not “a major cause of worry.”

He said investigation is ongoing to ascertain the actual cause of the fire.

In a statement by his media aide, Abubakar Sani, the minister gave the assurance when he visited the area on Tuesday with the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari.

The Mpape rock fire incident is coming few weeks after sudden violent vibrations of the earth in the area.

Many environmental experts had indicated that the tremor was as a result of massive quarry activities around Mpape.

Subsequently, the minister banned such activities in Mpape and other affected areas such as Maitama, Gwarimpa and Garki district.

Over the weekend however, residents of Mpape were again gripped by a fresh panic as certain rocks within the area started oozing fire. A hole said to have developed at the base of a rocky area ignited and has since been melting surrounding rocks.

“We saw whitish smoke coming out from the bush; we thought an animal was probably there so we picked a stone and threw in the direction and it caught fire,” a witness said.

“When this matter came up, the chairman (Bwari Area Council) briefed us as to what I’ve seen. But as you can see, we now have experts from the ministry (of Mines and Steel Development). So this means they have seen what oozed out and based on their preliminary observation, this obviously as you can see is not something that should make residents to be very concerned now, because they have taken samples,” the FCT minister told residents during the visit according to the statement.

“They have one or two reasons they think might have caused this, but all these cannot be determined until after thorough investigation.”

The minister expressed confidence that relevant experts will look at the issue properly and also interact with other agencies to determine the facts on ground.

He said the government will make sure that the lives and properties of the residents are not at risk at all.

He commended the chairman of Bwari Area Council, the community leaders and residents around the area for “alerting the proper authorities in respect to what they have observed”.

A recent investigation exposed how residents of many areas in the FCT where quarries are located suffer various degrees of physical and health challenges as a result of such activities.

Mpape, which is few kilometres from Maitama, is home to several quarries.

Experts in the area of environment, building and geological agencies have also expressed concern over abnormal tremors within areas of rock blasting sites in the Nigerian Capital. They warned the government not to treat the matter with kid gloves.

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